My husband and I had agreed to house two young men. Tony McRae and Donny Limbert were, at that time, seminary students with extraordinary musical gifting. They would be performing at our church for the first of what became many times on Sunday morning of that particular weekend. They arrived in town on Saturday evening. After a sound check at the church, they were driven to our home by our pastor.

Our oldest daughter, Ashley, had gone to bed early after a hard day of play. Our youngest, Jessica, had determined with 3-year-old resolve to stay awake long enough to meet the guys who were taking over her bedroom.

Somewhere around 9:00 our pastor arrived with the singers/ministers in tow. We greeted one another and I asked if they were hungry or thirsty, aware that Jessica had become the shadow of my right leg. Clad in soft pink and white pajamas, she looked up at the handsome and smiling men. Then, turning quickly, she left the room, blonde curls bouncing on her shoulders. When she returned she had in her tiny hands a book about Jesus. She paused at the living room door long enough to access where everyone was now sitting. Spotting Tony as being the nearest, she headed to him, book outstretched. Tony greeted her kindly, then watched as she opened her book to a page where a smiling Jesus had been captured in color pencils.

“Jesus,” she said, pointing to the image.

“That’s right,” Tony responded. “And He loves you very, very much.”

Jessica’s blue eyes met his. “I know,” she said.

Fast Forward
Sixteen years later, an angry Jessica — who’d we’d recently asked to leave our home — was escorted into our living room by her then-boyfriend. Rio (the boyfriend) was, himself, the father of a young daughter. The turmoil of our family was tangible as he ordered Jessica to sit next to him on the sofa. My husband and I sat in separate chairs across the room, looking at the child we barely recognized as our little girl. She, in turn, stared in disdain at the floor beneath her feet.

“Do you see these two people?” Rio’s question ended the silence.

She gave us an obligatory glance.

“Those two people,” Rio continued, “are the only two people in this world who would die for you. And yet you treat them like you do…”

There Is One More
The words have stayed with me these several years later. The only two people in this world who would die for you.

But I knew in my heart then as I know now, there is One more. One who not only would die for her, but did.

How deep is a love that would so willingly die?

Between the 9th and 17th verses of John 15, Jesus uses the word “love” nine times.

“As the Father has loved me,” He said, “I have loved you.”

He said that we are to remain in His love by obeying His commands; that we are to love one another as He has loved us. His command, He said, is simply to love one another.

He also called those who sat in attendance (His disciples) His friends. No one, He said, can love another more than the one who would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus was speaking in the Upper Room, mere hours from what would be His betrayal, mock trial, and crucifixion. He well knew what He was walking into and even better understood the kind of love it would require.

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
In 1926, the year after the death of a London merchant and open air preacher named Samuel Trevor Francis, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, and Other Poems, was published by Pickering and Inglis.

In his hymn, Francis wrote: O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!